PARIS — The French government declined to introduce new lockdown measures on Friday even as coronavirus cases soar in France.
The country reported nearly 10,000 new infections on Thursday, prompting officials to examine new approaches to curb the spread of the virus.
In a press conference Friday evening, Prime Minister Jean Castex acknowledged a “manifest degradation” of the situation but said that citizens would have to learn how to live with covid-19 for the next few months.
“The virus will be around for a few more months, and we must managed to live with it without being dragged back into a logic of general confinement,” he said.
These remarks echoed those of President Emmanuel Macron the day before: “We need to be demanding and realistic but without ceding to panic,” Macron said.
The almost 10,000 newly reported cases on Thursday marked a new record. Other neighboring countries, such as the U.K., have introduced new restrictions with comparably lower rates of infection.
Castex also announced that 42 of France’s administrative regions would now be classified as “red” zones, where the virus is in active circulation — up from 28 before. Regional authorities will have the power to impose mandatory mask wearing outdoors and other precautionary measures as they see fit.
The government would also continue its massive testing scheme, with time-slots reserved for certain at-risk patients to avoid the long lines seen this past week.
French officials have consistently maintained that the figures are not comparable to the number of cases recorded in spring, when testing capacity lagged and many infections went undocumented.
ICU occupancy rates and fatalities have risen more slowly than in spring — but some of those differences may be due to young people now being among the primary drivers of the outbreak in France. In total, France — with a population of 67 million — has recorded over 30,000 deaths.
Concerns were also mounting over the impact of the pandemic on school reopenings. On Thursday, staff at a Parisian junior high school went on strike after support staff were quarantined.
“We want the authorities to hire more people for what lies head,” said Eva Mouilleaud, a teacher at the school, according to Reuters.